The Suicide King
Season 3.5 Premiere
The Walking Dead
Written By Jessica Dwyer
The second half of the new season of the Walking Dead begins immediately with where we left off with episode 8; Merle and Daryl Dixon, both cornered and being yelled at by the very pissed off residents of Woodbury. The Governor watches on, his remaining eye as cold and dead as those of the Walkers, Daryl looks scared perhaps for the first time since we’ve ever seen him. It would appear the tag line of “Fear the Living” is appropriate as we see how people react once society has fallen and they are “governed” if you will, by the need to survive. Norman Reedus does a great job in this scene as does Michael Rooker. Daryl’s reaction to what is happening is telling and you can see that Merle is trying to figure it out in his head how he’s going to get his little brother out of there and save his own hide at the same time.
The Calvary arrives in the form of Rick and Maggie as they use tear gas and some well-placed (and not so well placed) fire power to rescue Daryl and (unwillingly so) Merle. It’s during this time that Andrea gets a rude awakening on what’s been going on while she’s been playing house with “Phillip.”
It’s interesting to see the reactions by not only Maggie, Glenn and Michonne but also Rick’s reaction to Merle coming along. Daryl’s response to them is also not surprising. Merle of course is goading everyone on and laughing at the absurdity of it. Daryl is trapped but his choice was made for him long ago when it came to Merle. That’s his brother, and blood is blood. Not even bothering to go back to the prison (he tells Rick that Carol will understand) he leaves with Merle rather than go back home without him.
This is where I have to say that this episode becomes truly more about the human interactions and about the characters and their motivations than zombies. I think that’s one of the best parts of season 3, that it’s really ramped up the characters and letting the actors shine. The arc of Daryl, Rick, and everyone else is really jumping ahead, especially with the relationship between Maggie and Glenn. Glenn’s need to protect her and to prove himself to not only her and her father, but to his own sense of worth is intense. I can only see things going badly and even darker.
When the gang arrives back at the prison we see Rick telling Carol that Daryl didn’t come back. She’s stricken to tears by that (perhaps Daryl was wrong about her understanding.) But later we see her talking to Beth about him. This scene and Carol’s understanding of what makes Daryl tick is one of my favorites of the episode.
Carol tells Beth that basically Daryl is the victim of abuse, a lifetime of it really by his brother. He’s got to break free of that hold to allow himself to be happy (or close to it) and accepted within the family he has now at the prison. But she understands why he didn’t come back because not only is there the relationship with Merle he needs to break out from, but the code of ethics he’s got, and the world they live in now, a man like that is rare to find.
That sort of complexity comes from some great writing and the work of the actors like Reedus to give depth to what a lot of people that haven’t seen TWD probably throw away as just “that zombie show.” Here we have an abused woman who has grown in strength of spirit and made it through the loss of her abusive husband and her only child still alive. And she’s talking about how the character everyone considers the biggest badass of the show is a victim just like she was…and he hasn’t been able to break that cycle or that chain.
Back at Woodbury The Governor and Andrea are each dealing separately with the chaos that has ensued with the escape. That escape has also left the town open defense wise to some Walkers who get inside. The residence of Woodbury don’t consider themselves safe anymore and people want out. Tensions run high and then the Walkers that managed to get inside attack.
Andrea is wondering where The Governor is in all this madness. He’s not coming out of his apartment for whatever reason, and is letting the town feed upon itself. So she takes command somewhat and helps take out the few Walkers who got inside. But she can’t bring herself to shoot the still living victim of their attack. The Governor at last appears and as unemotional as he was before, shoots the crying man in the head.
Andrea is told by the Governor after she follows him back inside that she’s got no business getting involved with Woodbury. She’s a stranger, a visitor there. And even if they were dancing in the sheets it didn’t mean she was going to be staying. The Governor knows how to play people like a fiddle, and this is another one of those scenes we see it happen. Andrea walks back outside and immediately starts telling everyone how Woodbury needs to stick together and that when the history books are written they’ll remember how “their” town survived. Oh Andrea, you really are the queen of bad ideas and bad choices in men.
Back at the prison a decision needs to be made about Tyreese and his group staying or going. Rick’s decision is they need to leave. That’s not a real popular choice by everyone there…and then the figure appears on the catwalk. The silhouette looks to be that of Lori and Rick’s reaction is not good. While everyone thinks he’s screaming at Tyreese and his people to leave, it’s really Lori’s spirit that’s haunting him he is begging and pleading to leave. Rick’s descent into madness isn’t quite over yet and that’s where we are left to wonder how far that descent into darkness will go.
I truly love how Rick and the Governor are still mirrors of one another. This episode shows it again perfectly. Rick feels too much, he can’t handle the amount of pain and sorrow, the grief he’s had to deal with upon losing everything. His strength and clarity seem to all be personified within Carl now (maybe there is power in the hat after all.) The Governor is in a way, the opposite. The loss and grief have shut him down completely emotionally. There’s nothing there within him anymore. He’s turned into a machine. When the two finally do meet face to face will be truly interesting to behold, because that mirror will no doubt shatter into a million jagged and blood pieces.